Race Weekend Central

Voices From the Heartland: Nearly 4 Years Later, Judge Holds NASCAR Solely Responsible for Air Disaster

In May 2008, after exhaustingly poring over official government documents concerning the July 10, 2007 NASCAR-owned plane crash in Sanford, Fla. that killed a total of five people, I wrote an article outlining a few facts that the sanctioning body forgot to mention to the public. In Feb. 2009, I did a follow up and outlined a few of the finer points that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had to say after their investigation was complete. I strongly urge you to check out those two links, especially the second one, to get an understanding of just what the NTSB said.

The reason I did the Feb. ’09 follow up was mainly due to the fact that NASCAR had balls of bad taste to actually claim that the aircraft manufacturer, Cessna, was to blame for the whole ordeal and was suing them, even though NASCAR had privately already paid the victims on the ground an undisclosed amount through their in-house insurance company.

As NASCAR described it, “Certainly, no one wanted to make the families on the ground wait for payment,” said spokesman Ramsey Poston when asked why a claim of “no fault” still led to an out-of-court settlement with those involved. “It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to make payment and then seek reimbursement later.”

So… NASCAR sued Cessna and even went so far as to make outrageous claims that the aircraft in question was “unreasonably dangerous and defective” and “the incident was entirely due to the negligence or fault of [Cessna], and not the negligence or fault of [Competitor Liaison Bureau Inc.] or NASCAR.”

NASCAR’s suit against Cessna continued, never minding the final summary ruling of the NTSB, “…that the probable causes of this accident were the actions and decisions by NASCAR’s corporate aviation division’s management and maintenance personnel to allow the accident airplane to be released for flight with a known and unresolved discrepancy, and the accident pilots’ decision to operate the airplane with that known discrepancy — a discrepancy that likely resulted in an in-flight fire.

This accident is especially tragic not only because lives were lost and people were grievously injured, but because it could have been so easily avoided,” The case was wasting Lord knows how much in attorney’s fees, until recently.

Last Friday, U.S. District Court Judge John Antoon II finally stopped the madness. He threw out NASCAR’s lawsuit against Cessna, ruling that any responsibility by Cessna for the crash expired after 12 years. After all, the Cessna 310R involved in the crash was constructed in 1977.

Now, I’m not sitting here, my heart all aflutter because I am in love with Cessna, but I am grateful that for once, true common sense justice has been served. NASCAR has a long history of bullying people with their lawyers and downplaying their responsibility for anything bad and it does my heart good to know that for once, they are being held accountable… even if they don’t like it!

So what do we learn from all this? Well, aside from the fact that NASCAR lawyers are not invincible, if you are planning on buying a Cessna 310R, be advised that the warranty on the thing has probably expired!

Chalk one up for the justice system!

Stay off the wall (and off NASCAR planes!)

Jeff Meyer

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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